By The Rev. Bob Holland
The opportunity to know God is the greatest invitation that has ever been given in the history of mankind. For those that have a passion to learn about Him and serve Him, we will never be able to tell Him enough how much we love and appreciate His love, grace, and endless mercy. There are supposedly over two billion people on our planet that claim to be associated with the Christian faith and you would think that every person within this family would be united in their love for God and one another. Sadly, this is not the case. When we study religious history and see the numerous groups that aggressively oppose each other, it leaves us with many questions about how so many people can serve the same God and yet be so divided.
Have you noticed when researching the many opinions of religiosity, each group believes they are right and everyone else is wrong? I grew up in a church like this and was disheartened at how doctrines, legalistic traditions, and rituals cause hatred and hostility among those who claim to be disciples of God. This gives me a headache because no one understands everything and the only perfect person who ever lived was Jesus. It’s arrogance and the desire for control that creates strife. Doing things a certain way is not as important as following His way. To be blunt, unless we are walking in the attributes and character of Christ, our views matter very little. If we are more concerned about a doctrine than we are about being filled with God’s love we have already missed the point. I Corinthians 13:2 reminds us, “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
I write about the Christian life and one of the strange realities is that many who claim to know God are uncomfortable expressing their love to Him, they refuse to study His word, and do not want to talk about taking up their cross. However, they love to argue about doctrines and how everyone else is deceived. Those who approach ministry with the coldness of politics remind us of when Jesus confronted this legalistic attitude in His day. They were not interested that He was the Son of God who came to fulfill the prophecies of a coming Messiah. They wanted to kill Him (and eventually did) because He did follow their religious rules and regulations. He did not look, act, or speak like they thought He should. Instead of embracing Him and trying to be one with God, they rejected His teachings the same as denominations and churches oppose each other today.
We know the god of this world’s system is Satan and his agenda is to influence people to be against God and each other and bring division to the churches. We must conclude that many follow their emotions instead of the Holy Spirit. In Matthew chapter 23 we read where Jesus does not hold back His criticism against the church leaders. I encourage you to read the chapter, but His point was how they were more concerned with putting on a religious show and boasting about their pious ceremonies instead of allowing God to demonstrate His character within their lives. They created their own worldview of God instead of obeying His will. Can we consider that if every Christian would humbly seek and fervently listen to Him there would not be thousands of different spiritual sects? Since the Almighty represents one truth, we must blame the confusion on these ancient evil spirits of deception along with people’s unrenewed minds that cannot discern God’s voice from their own.
God is speaking, but we have a hearing problem. The logical solution would be for every Christian to draw nearer to God in order to comprehend divine truth more clearly. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? When Jesus wanted people to pay attention He would say, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” We all have ears on our heads, but He was talking about how only the redeemed can understand Him. Being born again gives us a new spirit and a new set of ears. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” John 10:27. Could it be that many religious people cannot perceive divine truth because they do not have spiritual ears to hear?
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